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Norbert Weiner Formulates Communication Theory as a Statistical Problem: The Wiener Filter

Cover of the paperback version of Wiener's book

Cover of the paperback version of Wiener's book

In 1942, having collaborated with engineer Julian Bigelow, mathematician Norbert Wiener published, as a classified document from MIT, The Extrapolation, Interpretation and Smoothing of Stationery Time Series. According to Claude Shannon, this work contained “the first clear-cut formulation of communication theory as a statistical problem, the study of operations on time series.” The book was first commercially published by MIT Press and John Wiley and Sons in 1949.

"Some predict that Norbert Wiener will be remembered for his Extrapolation long after Cybernetics is forgotten. Indeed, few computer science students would know today what cybernetics is all about, while every communication student knows what Wiener's filter is. The original work was circulated as a classified memorandum in 1942, because it was connected with sensitive wartime efforts to improve radar communication. This book became the basis for modern communication theory, by a scientist considered one of the founders of the field of artifical intelligence. Combining ideas from statistics and time-series analysis, Wiener used Gauss's method of shaping the characteristic of a detector to allow for the maximal recognition of signals in the presence of noise. This method came to be known as the "Wiener filter." " (MIT Press).

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